CLAIMING THE GRID

tamara nasr

In the urban insula of Karm El-Zaytoun, the grid makes you feel estranged. A sense of belonging emerges from the appropriation of the voids carved between the concrete masses, allowing for dynamic appropriation of space by the people. The dwellers become the architects, as they are given room to temporarily imbue space with their own identity by placing a chair, hanging drapery, reinventing patterns of dwelling and gathering. These residual spaces also puncture the façade of the neighborhood, creating frames to the rest of Beirut. Located at the far tip of the neighborhood, this project aims to create a border connection with the rest of the city. Wedged between two grids – one relating to Karm El-Zaytoun, one relating to Beirut – the building embraces both geometries, treating the edge between Karm El-Zaytoun and the city as less of a cliff or a closed façade, but more of a gulf inviting the outside world in. The single housing unit encourages creative appropriation by the dwellers and the building as a whole frames an interplay between the interlocking residential units; this creates voids free to be interpreted and re-interpreted by the users to gather, interact and exchange.

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